By Drew Davis
OXFORD, Ohio – No. 13 Miami honored former student manager Brendan Burke, who tragically passed away one year ago, with a pre-game tribute followed by a 3-0 blanking of rival No. 8 Michigan Saturday at Steve Cady Arena to earn a weekend sweep and jump back into first place in the CCHA. The RedHawks (16-9-5, 13-7-4-2 CCHA) became the first team this season to sweep the Wolverines (17-9-4, 14-7-1-0 CCHA) and have now swept Michigan in each of the last two regular season series.
Before the game began, the RedHawks joined Burke’s family at center ice for a video tribute while the crowd fell silent in remembrance. Miami wore special jerseys with a red shamrock and the initials BB on the front. Each player’s name read Burke on the back of the sweater.
“It was a tough time a year ago knowing one of our guys passed away,” head coach Enrico Blasi said. “To relive some of those memories are painful. The Burke family was great, being here all weekend. We tried to honor Brendan as best we could. He’s probably deserving of a lot more, but hopefully the win and what we did for him and just keeping him in our hearts and keeping his message moving forward I think is very important.”
Miami played with a team-first mentality, blocking 21 shots in front of junior goaltender Cody Reichard, who stopped all 23 shots he faced for his 11th win and third shutout of the season. Sophomore Reilly Smith and senior Andy Miele tallied three points apiece to lead the offense.
Smith put the RedHawks up early at 8:20 of the first period on Miami’s third shot of the game. Junior Cameron Schilling took a pass at the point from Miele and sent a whistling shot toward the net that went wide. Smith gathered the rebound and circled behind the net, sneaking it just inside the post on a wrap-around for the 1-0 Miami lead.
Michigan tried to answer back immediately and created an odd-man rush before firing a shot from Reichard’s left. The Miami goaltender snatched it down with a glove save to keep Miami out in front just 11 seconds after the RedHawks took the lead. Reichard again gave the Miami faithful reason to cheer near the 12-minute mark of the first frame when me made a diving stick save, moving from his left to right, stopping a one-timer, then using his body to stop two more Michigan shots on rebounds.
The RedHawks gave Reichard some breathing room at 15:16 of the first period when Smith scored his second goal of the game, again finding himself in the right place at the right time. Junior Trent Vogelhuber slipped in behind the Michigan defense and Miele threaded the needle with a two-line pass, placing the puck right on the Vogelhuber’s stick. The forward then skated toward the goal and was dragged down just in front of the crease, drawing a penalty, but before Michigan could touch it up, Smith picked up the rebound and put it away for the 2-0 Miami lead.
Two Michigan penalties on the same play put the Red and White on a 5-on-3 power play 9:48 into the second period. Less than a minute later, Miami struck again when Miele found fellow senior Pat Cannone low in the left circle for a one-timer to put the RedHawks out in front 3-0.
Michigan controlled the puck for much of the third period, but the Miami defense limited the Wolverines to just seven shots on goal as RedHawk skaters gave up their bodies, blocking shots all over the ice and using timely clears to hold them off.
Two 5-on-3 power plays for UM in the final four minutes gave Michigan an opportunity to climb back into the game, but Miami’s penalty kill unit stayed strong to preserve the shutout victory.
The RedHawks killed off 7-of-7 Wolverine power plays for the game, after going 5-for-5 on the penalty kill last night, while converting on 1-of-6 of their own man- advantage opportunities. Miami held a slight 24-23 edge in shots for the contest, as well.
The RedHawks host their final regular-season home series next weekend, Feb. 11-12 against Western Michigan. Friday’s game starts at 7:35 p.m. while Saturday has puck drop set for 7:05 p.m.